How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Refinishing your hardwood floors is perhaps the best possible way to bring them back to their former glory while restoring luster and shine. This is particularly true of floors that have dings and dents that need to be removed. One thing you should keep in mind is that this is not a small undertaking. In fact, refinishing floors is a huge undertaking and worthy of seriously considering the merit of hiring a professional rather than doing this project yourself.

Do you have the time?

You should be aware that this particular job will take several days in order to complete and even more time if you make mistakes or are interrupted often along the way. You will spend countless hours filling in cracks, buffing, sanding, sanding some more, and then staining your floor. Another consideration is the fact that you will have to allow 24 hours for each coat to dry (depending on humidity and the type of finish you have selected). Three days is a good minimum estimate (assuming nothing goes wrong) of how long the job will actually take.


You will need two pieces of equipment in order to complete the job. The first is a drum sander and the second is a buffer. You can rent these machines at most home stores but should keep in mind that they are large enough that you will need a truck in order to transport them. The thought of dealing with the heavy equipment is often enough for most people to bring in the pros and these are only the beginning. There are also many small tools that will be needed in order to get the job done as well. Among the small tools you should invest in an orbital palm sander for sanding in corners and such.

The Work

If you haven’t been frightened away from the process before you may want to consider the amount of work involved in cleaning, sanding, buffing, and finishing the floors as well as the cleanup involved in each step.

While sanding and buffing are not all that difficult in and of themselves the machines will take a little bit of getting accustomed to-they will seem to develop a mind of their own at times but using the machines is typically not back breaking labor. The job of refinishing may become a little more difficult as you become more involved in the process.

Once you’ve sanded and buffed your floors you will need to completely and thoroughly clean them. You will not only need to remove the dust from your floors but also from your walls and ceiling. Once the cleaning is complete you can get down to the business of finishing the floors.

This is where the real work begins. You will need to use a lot of elbow grease when it comes to the process of actually applying the stain to your wood floors. You will also spend the vast majority of that time on your knees. You should make sure that you are covering the entire floor by taking it one section at a time. You need to take care that you aren’t leaving brush marks in the stain as you go. The really important thing to remember is that you will have to do this step not once, but twice! With that fact in mind, kneepads are a must for this job.

While there is a lot of work involved in refinishing your own floors, there is a huge sense of satisfaction that goes along with knowing you accomplished this task for yourself.